I love Abraham, that old weather-beaten

                        unwavering nomad; when God called to him,

                        no tender hand wedged time into his stay.

                        His faith erupted him into a way

                        far-off and strange.  How many miles are there

                        from Ur to Haran?  Where does Canaan lie,

                        or slow mysterious Egypt sit and wait?

                        How could he think his ancient thigh would bear

                        nations, or how consent that Isaac die,

                        with never an outcry or an anguished prayer?

                        I think, alas, how I manipulate

                        dates and decisions, pull apart the dark,

                        dally with doubts here and with counsels there,

                        take out old maps and stare.

                        Was there a call at all, my fears remark.

                        I cry out: Abraham, old nomad you,

                        are you my father?  Come to me in pity.

                        Mine is a far and lonely journey too.

                                                (Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers 66)


Abraham to kill him

                        Was distinctly told--

                        Isaac was an Urchin--

                        Abraham was old--


                        Not a hesitation--

                        Abraham complied--

                        Flattered by Obeisance

                        Tyranny demurred--


                        Isaac--to his children

                        Lived to tell the tale--

                        Moral--with a Mastiff

                        Manners may prevail.

                        (The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson 571-2)


"Take Your Only Son"

None guessed our nearness to the land of vision,

                        not even our two companions to the mount.

                        That you bore wood and I, by grave decision,

                        fire and a sword, they judged of small account.


                        Speech might leap wide to what were best unspoken

                        and so we plodded, silent, through the dust.

                        I turned my gaze lest the heart be twice broken

                        when innocence looked up to smile its trust.


                        O love far deeper than a lone begotten,

                        how grievingly I let your words be lost

                        when a shy question guessed I had forgotten

                        a thing so vital as the holocaust.


                        Hope may shout promise of reward unending

                        and faith buy bells to ring its gladness thrice,

                        but these do not preclude earth's tragic ending

                        and the heart shattered in its sacrifice.


                        Not beside Abram does my story set me.

                        I built the altar, laid the wood for flame.

                        I stayed my sword as long as duty let me,

                        and then alas, alas, no angel came.

                                    (Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers 153)